Targeting Upper Abdominals

By: Sandra Prior

If abdominals came in a can, everyone would have a six pack. In the real world, having an enviable midsection requires a real commitment not only to a training program that includes, unless you're genetically gifted, plenty of aerobics but also a diet that carefully monitors macronutrient ratios and total calories.

We all know that extra body fat diminishes the nuances of toned muscle, but even a little jelly on the belly will wipe those abdominal contours clean out of sight. It's been said that if you want great looking abdominals you have to live hungry. That may or may not be true. Start with a visual check of your upper abdominals (generally considered easier to develop and show than the lower abdominal region). If you can't see definition, you'll be starting at square one.

Before reading our bodybuilders' top picks to work the upper abdominals, determine how much aerobic exercise you do in relation to the amount of calories you consume. For most competitive bodybuilders, aerobic training is de rigeuer, ranging from 30 minutes three times a week in the off season to 60 - 90 minutes nearly every day come competition time.

Beginners should start with 10 minutes of cardio after their workout three times a week for two weeks. Increase the cardio training to 15 minutes three times a week for another 2 weeks, eventually working your way up to 60 minutes. This will really confuse your body and give you the best fat burning results in the shortest possible time. Be sure to start at a low intensity, about 50% - 60% of your maximal heart rate, working up to 80%.

You need to train your abdominals ferociously. Here are a few tips to help pop open your own six-pack.

Seated Knee Ups

Sit on the edge of a chair or bench, lean back slightly and hang onto the edges for support. As you lift your legs, bring them slowly into your chest. Get into a groove or rhythm because you want to really feel the movement.

Cable Crunches

Grasp the rope above your head and get on your knees. Begin to come forward and crunch your abdominals to the point where your elbows almost touch your knees.

Exercise Ball

Lie with your back on an exercise ball, feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head and lift your torso half way up. This looks like half crunches and that's really the range in which your abdominals are working. More range than that at the top and you bring your hip flexors into play. At the bottom you may get a greater range of motion. The movement is very small, but the burn is really intense.

Bench Press Crunch

Lie on your back on a bench and lift your legs up 90 degrees, bend them at the knees and support it over the weight bar. Raise your upper torso only 4 - 5 inches. When you do this crunch, you should be squeezing so hard that you're almost cramping. Do it really slow to feel the burn. Put your hand on your midsection so you can tell if you're working your upper abdominals. To increase the burn, hold it at the top for a count of up to four.

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